Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Reading About Florida

I promise not to talk about photography or Bleeding London today! I am becoming kind of a one-note Joe lately, but it's true that most of my spare time seems consumed by those pursuits.

I've been making a little room for reading. I just started another John Green book, "Paper Towns," which I was eager to read because it's set in Florida -- Orlando, specifically. I wouldn't say it's very complimentary about Florida, but it's always fun to read about my home state.

When I was growing up Florida seemed relatively untouched by popular culture -- at least until "Miami Vice" came along. The big news happened somewhere else. All the TV shows, with the exception of "Flipper," were set in New York or California. (Certainly nothing was ever set in Tampa -- which is still true, as far as I know!) There were some Florida books -- "The Yearling," and one I loved called "Summer Lightning" that is now apparently out of print but still available used or as an e-book.

Florida's cultural prominence, like its population, has increased greatly since then.

Anyway, I like the Green book, though I read an interesting article in Slate not long ago chastising adults for reading Young Adult literature. Even good YA books, the writer asserts, are too simplistic in their endings and too wide-eyed in their approach to love and life to be satisfying to a right-thinking adult. "If (readers) are substituting maudlin teen dramas for the complexity of great adult literature, then they are missing something," she wrote. I thought of an adult book group I heard about that read "Divergent," which I must agree is probably not the best choice. (I slogged through "Divergent" but you could not pay me to read the sequels.)

But the line between YA and adult reading does seem blurry sometimes -- just like the line between youth and adulthood seems blurry in our modern culture. I suppose our reading habits are symptomatic of a wider psychological change. (I defend my own YA reading as a job requirement!)

Speaking of Florida, I had the weirdest dream last night. My mom and I were sitting on the dock behind our family home when we saw a huge alligator welling up out of the water. I got up to run, but Mom jumped in the water (which I suspect she would not do in real life) and began swimming to shore. I had to grab her arm and pull her. We did escape the gator. What do you suppose that was all about? Why am I rescuing my mother?

(Photo: Hauling lumber on Savernake Road, near Hampstead Heath, on Saturday.)


  1. The dream
    Probably to do with old age and death

    All dreams are about that unless you're a teenage boy
    Then the answer would be sex and girls

  2. Steve, I wonder at that reviewer being so judgmental about what people read! There'a s lot of great YA lit out there and besides, I'm of the opinion that the criteria for engaging with a book is to enjoy it or to learn something, both are valid. And sometimes your brain is just too full already for War & Peace.

  3. There's a lot of "adult" literature which is nothing more to my mind than yes, a slog to finish to say you're done it.
    No thanks.
    Do not even ask me about dreams.

  4. I like YA fiction and don't like people who tell me what I shouldn't be reading! I recently read 'The Goldfinch' and loved it. I don;t read reviews until I have read the book, and read a very snooty one about this book, it's main point being that it was more like YA fiction than grown up literature. Perhaps I liked it for that reaon but it did remind me of Dickens, which is what some of the more complimentary reviewers said. Maybe Dickens is like YA fiction in some cases! Who knows?

  5. Ha! My book club ONLY reads YA (well, mostly anyway - we've also been reading JK Rowling's Galbraith books too). But we pick them because we know we'll actually read them, & then we get together & talk about other stuff.

    I form my opinion about Florida through Carl Hiaasen books :)

  6. I read some young fiction. Sometimes I don't want to get cerebral or literay. Sometimes I just want a good quick story. I don't think it matters much what people read as long as they read.

  7. John: You are probably right!

    37P: I agree, there are good YA books worth reading. But I also agree that to be worthwhile, reading ought to carry some level of challenge -- so I can see the conflict.

    Ms. Moon: Yes, there is plenty of bad adult reading!

    Sarah: I loved "The Goldfinch" too, and I never thought it seemed like YA lit, except that the protagonist was a teenager or young man. I think Dickens actually was meant partly for younger readers at the time, if I remember correctly.

    Bug: Well, I wasn't thinking of your book group when I slammed "Divergent." :) Carl Hiaasen wasn't even writing books when I was a kid. He came later. He is a great Florida author, though.

    Ellen: Any reading is better than none, that's true.